Chip Kidd

An author, editor, musician, graphic designer and fashionista, Chip Kidd is one of the most down-to-earth individuals I have ever come across. His diverse portfolio and approach to design are inspiring, I am yet to come across a better method of design than Chip’s. He never judges a book by it’s cover (as publishers would hope), he creates covers that embody the book. USA Today described him as “the closest thing to a rock star” in the graphic design world.

At the tender age of 52, Chip has had a thriving career. Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, he stayed a home-bird until he graduated from Pennsylvania State University and moved to the big apple, New York City. As many graduate do, he dreamed of becoming a big shot in the world of Graphic Design as soon as he graduated, unfortunately, reality hit hard when the only job he was offered was an assistant to an art director at Knopf; a book publisher.

Chip’s approach to design is different every time, but he always begins the same, by reading the book he is designing. He then applies the ‘magpie method’ in which he borrows and chooses things that have been done before and adapts them, most importantly, he asks himself ‘what do the stories look like?’ and develops from there. His most famous, and coincidently his biggest break, process was that for Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. He began by reading the book and then going to the Natural History Museum. On his way out he picked up a book about dinosaurs at the gift shop, he was particularly taken by one image, the skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. He then made a photocopy, began tracing over it and filling in the details. He sent the final idea over to the author whom loved it. He was later approached by Universal whom asked if they could buy the rights to the image as they MAY use it for a film production and that’s where the infamous Jurassic Park illustration came from.

When it comes to influences, Chip Kidd has a variety. He has noted to be influenced by the graphic designer Alvin Lustig, art director Peter Saville and even Russian Constructivists. However, when it comes to having a style, Chip isn’t a fan. He says that ‘having a signature look is crippling’ which I can understand. I mean, if you’re designing in one way and not thinking outside the box you’ve created, as a designer you’re going to be known as very limited and your work will be limited. You only appeal to a certain, small audience whereas if your work fluctuates, you will have a lot more work compared.

As a university student, I can really empathise with Chip Kidd. He was a budding graduate who thought he had the entire world at his grasp but he was hit with the harsh reality that the world doesn’t necessarily treat you to your ideal scenario. But, nonetheless, Chip showed enthusiasm and persevered which took him from assistant to an art director to the associate art director at Knopf and one of the most recognised and appreciated book designers in the world. His story is somewhat unbelievable in the sense that it really can happen to anybody if you’re willing to put yourself out there, you just have to try and not be afraid of the word no.


His website

A magazine article 


Josef Müller-Brockmann

‘I would advise young people to look at everything they encounter in a critical light … Then I would urge them at all times to be self-critical.’ – Josef in an interview with Yvonne Schwemer-Scheddin for Eye Magazine, 1995.

Josef is one of, if not the, most famous name in 20th century graphic design. Ironically, he became a graphic designer by accident. Growing up in pre-war Switzerland he focused on his talents and studied art, design and architect at the University of Zürich. At school he had a tendency to not write notes but instead he would create little illustrations. His teacher took a liking to this and encouraged him to pursue an artistic career. He took his teachers advice and found an apprenticeship a retoucher at a printing works but he only lasted one day as he said it wasn’t art, he then found another apprenticeship where he lasted a month and that was with two architects. Overall, he wasn’t happy. He finally found something that interested him; graphic design. So he took to the telephone directory because he wanted to see what they did and wanted to know if this was something he would see himself doing in six months time. Afterward he enrolled to study graphic design at the Zurich Gewerbeschule.

Josef is mostly recognised for his grid technique. One would assume he learnt this technique from architect; working in a systematic order which he then developed into his graphic style and this idea is still used today. In his 1981 book, Grid Systems in Graphic Design, he wrote that the grid system creates a ‘sense of compact planning, intelligibility and clarity, and suggests orderliness of design’. This idea was important to Josef as he most frequently used a clean design and just looking at his work  you can tell he has used a grid system because his designs, also sometimes complex, they look simplistic and your eyes can easily flow. This influenced designers on a global scale and we are still learning about it today. He loved teaching young designers the basics of graphic design and seeing how they would take that and make it their own, adapt and use their own style. So much so that at the age of 43 he became a teacher at Zurich School of Arts and Crafts.

His influences fluctuated from art movements to psychiatrists to handwriting. His big influences were art movements by the likes of Constructivism, De Stijl, and Suprematism. Interestingly, the Bauhaus was also one of his influences. Whether it was the art process they taught, the young individuals and their artistic outcomes or the building itself, I’m not sure why this particular place influenced Josef but I can understand why (I will write a separate blog post on this matter and link it here). He would judge a person and their characteristics on their handwriting, this really interested Josef and he claimed that he wasn’t often wrong on his judgement. However, this wasn’t the case with Carl Jung, a psychiatrist and psychotherapist. In an interview with Yvonne Schwemer-Scheddin for Eye Magazine he said the following regarding Carl Jung; ‘As a young man I was intrigued not only by psychology but also by graphology. When I met people who interested me I would read their handwriting and was rarely wrong in my judgements. But this gift began to disturb me, especially in my dealings with clients, where it would unnecessarily prejudice discussion. So I abandoned it overnight. Later I paid the price for giving up these analyses when I took on partners and employees whose handwriting would have given me an early warning of trouble ahead.’

Josef Muller-Brockmann is somewhat of a graphic design pro. He had the ability to make text and image flow simultaneously. You knew what you were getting when you hired Josef for a design job; professionalism, expertise and an innovative design. No matter wat he was designing, he would always make something new, and that is what I admire about him. Each design is different but it still has his corporate identity. Starting with the grid layout and developing on from there, he was a genius of the 20th century. What you have to remember about Josef is that he lived through two wars and when everything around you is crumbling, the last thing most individuals would be is inspired. But that is something Josef never lost.

Unfortunately Josef passed in 1996, but his legacies haven’t.

Dalton Maag

Founded in London by Bruno Maag in 1991, Dalton Maag are an independent type design studio with offices around the globe. The team consists of 41 international font developers, software engineers and creative designers whom collaborate and have worked for big/small businesses alike. Their portfolio consists of work developed for Rio 2016, Toyota, Google, Vodafone, BMW, Amazon, Nokia and many more.

Dalton Maag offer a range of fonts on their website which you are able to buy a license for; the price varies depending on the font you want. For example, Setimo Family costs £90 whereas buying the family of Aktiv Grotesk would cost £240. However, you can buy individual fonts for around £15 each. So, whatever your budget, Dalton Maag has a variety on offer. Still, this is a lot cheaper than the Helvetic family which would set you back over £700.

The man behind the magic himself is Bruno Maag. born in 1962, he is  Swiss type designer whom started his career as an apprentice typesetter forSwitzerland’s largest newspaper; Tages Anzeiger. A typesetter is an individual whom is sent the images, text and any other illustrative material and they begin setting it out on the page ready for print. After his apprenticeship, his began to study a degree in Visual Communication at Basel School of Design in Basel, Switzerland. He had a placement at Stempel Type Foundry in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. This is where he met Rene Kerfante and was later invited to join him working for Monotype. This was a bold move for Maag as he worked for Monotype in both the UK and the US, where he later designed typography for The New Yorker; an American magazine published by Condé Nast (whom also publish Vogue). He has designed many typefaces in his career such as Aktiv Grotesk, Co, Elevon, Stroudley, Viato and many, many more. His is reknown for his severe dislike of the typeface Helvetica, which I am personally a fan of so I can’t relate.